In the decapod Crustacea, Palinurus vulgaris and Fasus lalandii, the reflex influences of one particular proprioceptor organ, the coxo-basal chordotonal organ (CB), on all the muscles operating the proximal and distal joints of the same leg, have been analysed. The distal end of CB was clamped in fine forceps mounted on a servo-controlled stretcher, and CB length changes of 2 mm were applied. Motor unit activity of the different muscles was recorded as electromyograms (EMGs). 1. Two types of proprioceptive reflex evoked by CB length changes have been investigated: (a) resistance reflexes of the two levator and two depressor muscles of the same leg segment, the coxopodite, i.e. ‘intrasegmental reflexes’, (b) ‘intersegmental reflexes’ induced in the muscles operating the proximal (T-C) joint of the same leg, and in all eight muscles of the limb segments distat to CB. 2. Both levator muscles respond reflexly to imposed CB stretch (which normally occurs with limb ‘depression’), while both depressors respond during CB shortening (or passive “elevation” of the leg). 3. Intersegmentally CB stretch reflexly activates the M-C extensor muscle, and sometimes facilitates the T-C remotor and C-P bender muscles. Shortening of the single CB organ of a leg excites one or two tonic motor units of the T-C promotor and M-C flexor muscles, and also facilitates the remotor, I-M reductor, and the single stretcher-opener excitatory motoneurone. 4. Some of the muscles, particularly the M-C flexor and extensor muscles, are also influenced intersegmentally by the resting length of CB, usually but not invariably in the same direction as for the corresponding dynamic reflexes. The role of the CB chordotonal organ is discussed, with particular consideration of its intersegmental reflex influence on the posture of the entire leg, and on the more complex motor behaviour of locomotion, where it may be specially significant in coordination of the limb in lateral walking. A complex picture of both tonic and dynamic, inra- and intersegmental reflex regulation of the positions and movements of the limb segments, thus emerges.
- © 1978 by Company of Biologists